Once instructors have a little (or a lot) of experience under their belts, it becomes difficult for them to remember what it felt like to be a newbie…
…which can pose big challenges for those instructors.
You see, as instructors it’s incredibly important that we do our best to empathize with our riders, especially the first-timers. If we can’t get newbies feeling comfortable during their first rides, then we’ll never see them again. If your goal is to fill your classes (and keep them full), you have to welcome the new riders with open arms.
Here are a 6 ways that you can make sure your new riders feel welcomed and comfortable in their first experience on the bike:
1. Seek them out.
Most instructors welcome the riders at the start of class and ask if anyone is new. This is great! But there’s one issue here…
A lot of newbies don’t want to raise their hands when you ask for the new riders, so in order to help these folks you have to seek them out yourself. If you have a sign up sheet or online system, you can use that to see who is new and try to track them down when they come in. You might even have enough regulars that you immediately recognize a new face. Whatever you gotta do, make sure you scout out those new people before class starts.
2. Don’t make a scene!
For the same reason newbies don’t raise their hands at the start of class, you should try to avoid calling them out or drawing too much attention to them. The last thing these riders want is for everyone to stare at them while they try to figure out what the heck they’re doing.
Once you find the new riders, help them set up and clip in without making a scene of it. New riders might get turned off if you make them feel self-conscious by announcing their “newness” for whole class to hear.
Another thing you can do is introduce the newbie to a regular that’s sitting nearby. This will give them someone to ask questions to that is a little less intimidating than the instructor.
3. Re-state the obvious.
“Assuming makes a ass out of u and me.”
Always start class by explaining the basics, no matter how obvious you think they are.
Tell your riders about the bike, the gears, the positions, the ride length, and the expectations. Tell them to hydrate. Tell them to listen to their body. Tell them what to do if they get un-clipped, if they get hurt, or if they feel sick.
Imagine everyone is a new rider and educate them before you get started.
4. Always give options.
Along with explaining the basics, make sure to let your riders know that they don’t have to do exactly what you’re doing.
Emphasize that every rider is unique, varying on all sorts of factors such as fitness level, riding experience, age, weight, gender, etc. This means that gear and speed will vary as well, so the riders should do what feels challenging to them.
You should also warn your riders to leave out anything that doesn’t feel good to their bodies, especially if you ride with choreography. Choreo can get dangerous for someone who has never tried it, so you want to let newbies know that they can leave it out.
5. Keep an eye on them and generally announce corrections to the class.
It’s inevitable that your new riders are going to struggle with bike form. Remember your first time on a bike?
- Your butt hurt and your crotch felt super uncomfortable
- Your hands and wrists felt strained from death-gripping and leaning on the handlebars
- Your shoulders were working overtime up by your ears
- Your breathing was all over the place and sometimes you even held your breath
- Your legs spun out of control because you didn’t have enough resistance OR you had way too much resistance and could barely pedal
There’s a LOT to focus on, and new riders can’t keep track of it all.
Once you know where the new riders are sitting, you can keep an eye on them and monitor their form. As soon as you see something falter, start to cue the entire class to fix it. This will help the new rider adjust themselves without feeling singled out.
6. Check in with them after class.
Do a walk through the room at the end of class as people are getting ready to leave, and casually check in with the new riders.
I suggest that new riders snap a photo of the numbers on their bike setup so that they know how to get themselves back to the right setup when they return. Ask them how they did, how they feel, and thank them for coming!
If we can help newbies feel comfortable on the bike and give them a fun workout, they will not only come back, but it will be hard to keep them away!
If you’re an indoor cycling instructor, then you probably already know that in order to be a rockstar instructor you have to be able to create a solid class profile.
Take the stress out of planning your classes and learn the method that will make class-building quick, effortless and enjoyable! Click here to read more details about the Cycle Poet Method.
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